The Boom in Port Elizabeth continues: The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) announced plans for the development of a R2bn aqua farming facility on 300 hectares of land in Zone 10 of the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) in Port Elizabeth. CDC agro-processing project manager Dr Keith du Plessis said a feasibility study had been completed earlier. “The envisaged facility will focus on the commercial cultivation of marine animals and plants,” he said.
Du Plessis believes approximately 5 000 jobs could be created for the local economy through this project. He said the findings of the feasibility study especially showed that environmental conditions were ideal for abalone farming. “The CDC aims to dedicate 80ha to abalone farming by 2020, creating about 2 080 permanent jobs. South Africa is widely known to have of the best abalone and the best product in the world, all of which is exported to the Far East,” said Du Plessis. In addition, finfish farming on a proposed 120ha in the Coega IDZ could create about 3 000 additional permanent jobs in the long term.
“Another species that could potentially be farmed is seaweed, which is complementary to abalone farming,” he said. “Seaweed can be used for abalone feed and various pharmaceutical uses.” Du Plessis also said the deep-water Port of Ngqura is of strategic importance and ideal for maintenance of the cold chain required for aqua-farmed produce. CDC is currently working on two Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). One is for seawater abstraction and a discharge outlet and another for the land-based activities related to aquaculture. “There are synergies between the proposed aqua-farming facility and other CDC projects, which require large amounts of seawater for cooling,” he explained.
Du Plessis said the CDC is working closely with local stakeholders, government and prospective investors. Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, CDC head of marketing and communications, said the aqua-farming facility is aligned with the government’s plans to harness the potential of an “oceans economy”. “Earlier this year the South African presidency announced plans to explore parts of the ocean to find economic potential that could lead to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP),” said Vilakazi. “Commercial economic activities can potentially contribute R177bn to GDP, while creating about one million direct jobs. The CDC cannot ignore this potential and is actively working to create opportunities in aqua-based agro-processing and attract investors.”